Assistant District Attorney, Harris County District Attorney's Office
Sarah NEYLAND Grinnan '07 attended Duchesne for high school, before graduating from the honors college at TCU with a major in finance. After college Sarah earned a law degree, and today she is the Assistant District Attorney in the Gangs/Organized Crime Division in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. Sarah started her legal career as a criminal prosecutor at the Harris County DA's Office. Over the past six years, she has had the opportunity to prosecute a variety of crimes, from low-level misdemeanors to felonies. She is now a gang prosecutor in the organized crime division, working directly with law enforcement to combat gang violence in Houston’s third ward. Here, Sarah shares with us the story of her intriguing career, as well as her advice to current Duchesne students.
How did you find your passion for practicing law?
As a finance major in the honors college at TCU, I was required to complete a thesis. I decided to write about income inequality and the role greed on Wall Street played in causing the 2008 financial crisis. That research led me to discover my passion for social justice and realize that I was better suited to the regulatory side of finance. I thought I wanted to pursue a career at an agency like the SEC or work in a career focused on white collar crime. This vision drove my passion to apply to law school and survive my 1L year. However, an internship for a civil judge the following summer made me realize I had no interest in civil or commercial litigation. That same summer, I randomly decided to watch a capital murder trial, and I’ve been at the DA’s office ever since, first as an intern and now as a prosecutor.
Describe your current role as a criminal prosecutor at the Harris County DA’s office.
I am currently a prosecutor in the Gangs/Organized Crime Division at the Harris County DA's Office. In this position, I am responsible for prosecuting gang violence, which includes aggravated robbery, organized criminal activity, and murder. In addition to being responsible for this caseload, my position allows me to assist detectives during investigations and to take an active role in the case before a charge is ever filed.
What do you find most challenging about your career as a criminal prosecutor, and what do you find most rewarding?
The most challenging part about my career is the negative undertone it can bring at times. It can be mentally draining if you bring the trauma you deal with at work back home with you. It takes the “work life balance” idea, which is absolutely crucial to sustain a career in this field, to a whole new level.
The most rewarding part of the job is knowing I get to work toward justice every day – whether that means dismissing a case or advocating for incarceration.
How did attending Duchesne lay the foundation for where you are today?
Duchesne’s challenging curriculum and constant attention to social justice reform laid the foundation for where I am today. Had I not gone to Duchesne, I would not be who I am today.
What advice would you share with current Duchesne students considering a career in law?
Keep an open mind. Do not shape your college degree and curriculum around what you think will be best for your chances of getting into and succeeding in law school. My law school class consisted of students of all ages, degrees, and backgrounds. Major in what you love and apply to law school when you are ready. Also, seek guidance from lawyers before pursuing this career.
What do you wish you had known as a high school student at Duchesne?
As a graduate of Duchesne Academy, you truly can do anything you set your mind to. I was told that while at Duchesne, but I never truly believed it until I started college. Once I was in college, it became abundantly clear: no matter where you graduate in your class at Duchesne, you are ahead of the curve.